The debates have been ongoing about gun control, but the issue will never be about the gun. Criminals will find a loophole no matter what laws are in place to take the guns out of their possession or purchasing them. It is the hatred in a person’s heart which causes all evil and senseless acts of violence. As more information comes forth from the investigations of the December 6 shooting at the naval base in Pensacola, Florida, we find the shooter and the FBI knew about a loophole. Six months before the shooting took place, the FBI issued warnings in their report about this loophole, which was taken advantage of by the perpetrator.
There is a hunting license exemption that the Saudi gunman used to carry out his horrific act of violence. The FBI’s warning stated on May 22 of this year, “Federal Hunting License Exception Could Be Exploited by Extremists or Criminal Actors Seeking to Obtain Firearms for Violent Attacks. This report was sent from the FBI’s Office of Private Sector. The warning issued to all businesses stated, “Extremists and other criminal actors could exploit the federal statutory exception that allows non-immigrant visa holders who normally can’t buy firearms or ammunition to legally purchase them with a valid hunting license or permit.”
The warning continued, “Terrorist organizations, including ISIS, have encouraged Westerners to exploit perceived gaps in gun laws to conduct mass casualty shooting attacks in their home countries, and that foreign national visa holders could use this hunting license exception to obtain firearms to commit violence in the Homeland.”
Investigations uncovered the warning issued by the FBI pertains to this incident where the shooter, Saudi national Mohammad Alshamrani, wounded eight and killed three people at the Naval Air Station Pensacola. The FBI identified Alshamrani on December 7 after the shooting took place, and he was killed by the law enforcement agency. He was a 21-year-old, ranked as a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, and attended the Navy facility training program.
It was confirmed by the FBI Alshamrani used the hunting license exemption to obtain the firearm used in the shooting. He also posted on social media before all the signs of a terrorist act from groups like ISIS and al-Qaida.
When reporters reached out to Uber’s Lock and Gun, the woman who answered did not comment on whether or not the store received the report from the FBI when they sold the gun to Alshamrani. There were two other gun stores in Florida who claimed they never received the warning issued from the FBI and said they knew nothing of the FBI’s Office of Private Sector. A third gun retailer stated bulletins are issued from the FBI, but he was unaware of the loophole of the hunting license exemption.
FBI special agent Rachael Rojas told reporters, “Alshamrani carried out the shooting using a Glock 9 mm pistol that was legally and lawfully purchased. Nonresident immigrants can purchase handguns in Florida, provided they meet certain exceptions, including possessing a valid hunting license or working as a representative of a foreign government or law enforcement agency.” The Governor of Florida also confirmed Alshamrani purchased the gun through “a federal loophole that he took advantage of.”
A spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis, Helen Aguirre Ferre, stated, The governor has made clear that he is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment for United States citizens, but foreign nationals need to be treated differently. Gov. DeSantis is advocating federal partners to require, at a minimum, improved vetting by both the U.S. and foreign governments. The tragedy at Naval Air Station Pensacola could have been avoided, and that is more than regrettable.”
There are a few things that are wrong with this picture of how the FBI went about stopping this act of terrorism in particular. The FBI reported they did send the warnings out to all “participating organizations.” They declined to comment on where the loophole report was sent. Could this be an FBI screw up or gun retailer’s fault?
Alshamrani set off the red flags he was involved in social media posts for the terrorist act. Why didn’t the FBI stop him then? The end of the report states, “If you believe there is an imminent threat, contact your local police as soon as it is safe to do so.” How can gun retailers do so if they don’t read the warning or do not receive the notice? It is something to think about.